Phil Collins has given his backing to the Evening Standard’s Young and Homeless Helpline Appeal.
The rock star — who tackled the issue of homelessness in his 1989 hit Another Day In Paradise — said: "It’s shameful that kids are leaving school, aged 16 to 25, and having to deal with this stuff."
Standard readers have so far raised more than £2 million to fund the launch of Centrepoint’s Freephone helpline for young people who are homeless or at risk of life on the street.
Collins, 65, added: "You associate the homeless with a certain age group but some of these people haven’t got off the starting grid.
"Thank God there are people like Centrepoint who are caring and doing something about it. It’s not something any one person can fix. All you can do is try to do your bit."
Another Day In Paradise was a huge hit, reaching number one in the US and two in the UK. It tells of a man crossing the road to ignore a homeless woman.
Collins, who has homes in Switzerland and Miami, faced accusactions of hypocrisy at the time, with critics from Billy Bragg to Alexei Sayle asking what a man of his wealth would know about the problem.
Today, however, he defended his song, saying, "I’m proud of my association with the issue" of homelessness.
Describing his inspiration for the track, he said: "I was in Washington DC for an awards show. In a cab on the way to my hotel we drove past these boxes by the side of the road. It was winter and the ground was covered in snow.
"It struck me that these people were living like this within a stone’s throw of the Capitol building. We all whinge about minuscule things, like cold coffee or underdone spaghetti, and I wanted to say that it was another day in paradise compared to these poor buggers.
"Maybe I didn’t voice it eloquently enough, but it certainly wasn’t taken in the way I meant it."
After the song came out homeless people began to recognise him and approach him for help. It was adopted by charities, and when he played it at his gigs, collection buckets were passed around and the sum raised was matched from his pocket.
Collins joins other music stars including Ellie Goulding, Ed Sheeran, Roger Daltrey and Craig David in backing our appeal. He was due to perform at Centrepoint’s gala before Christmas, but had to pull out.
"I have Type 2 diabetes, and I got an abscess on my foot that went septic," he said. "I was told to spend a week in a hyperbaric chamber."
The helpline launches on February 13. Also available online and via text, the Freephone service for 16- to 25-year-olds will provide housing support and advice on issues such as mental health and addiction, and link users to services.
© Evening Standard, by Ed Cumming
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